The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Peel and oven, Peel and kitchen door

  • Pin It
ron45's picture
March 7, 2007 - 3:30pm -- ron45

Hello, Would someone please share some info about the peel I just made. I haven't put anything in the way of oil or a finish on the business end yet. Is there something I should do to it before using it? It's made from alder and I'm unsure how it will stand up to oven heat and abrasion on the hearth. I have no experience with wood fired ovens or the tools.

Also, about the mop thing for cleaning remains of the ashes after their removal.... I'm assuming that it should only be damp to avoid thermal shock to the fire brick. I don't see how that thing would get very much of the ash dust up that way. The pics I've seen look like about 5 rag strips attached to a stick. Would a real mop be better? This stuff will probably be a lot clearer after I bake in once but that's a little ways away yet. Thanks if you can help.

Ron

Comments

breadnerd's picture
Submitted by breadnerd on

My homemade scuffle is several strips of flannel shirt run through a wire loop and then attached an eye hook on the end of a handle. I usually have a bucked of water handy to soak it and a towel (which I wrap around the door). I squeeze the excess water out of it, and then use it to sweep the ash out.

 

The main bulk of ash is removed by shovel and an old hoe first, and then I sweep with the scuffle. It works pretty well--a little ash might be left along the outside edges. Also--I sweep it before soaking the oven (closing the door and letting the heat even out) and then again afterwards, so that gets most of the ash.

ron45's picture
Submitted by ron45 on

Thanks Breadnerd, I appreciate the input. Do you know hot your oven is when you are removing ashes prior to soaking? It was my understanding it needed to get up to around 700 or so to have a good hot oven for bread once you get the ashes out and start the soaking. I believe I read this in Kiko's book.

If this is in the ball park, what is the composition of the broom you use? Seems like it might take a beating if the hearth is in that temp range. I speak from a complete lace of experience here. I read that it's good to do pizza around 700 so that would take a pretty hot oven before you cleared ashes and cleaned up the hearth. Do you know if the heat would drop 200 degrees during the period between ash removal and soaking.? `Read that somewhere too. Is your oven brick or mud or....? Hope that's not too many questions.

Ron

breadnerd's picture
Submitted by breadnerd on

I have a Kiko Denzer designed oven as well.

When I'm removing the coals--it's extremely hot! I use a flat shovel (and looong welding gloves) and a cheap garden hoe to get the coals out. The hoe handle is wood, and is definitely getting scorched in the process. After I get the coals out I sweep once (the wet scuffle steams a lot but due to the water and speed of action there's no time for it to catch fire). Then I close up the door with a wet towel to let the heat distribute (Denzer calls this "soaking"). Depending on my bread schedule, this can be 15 minutes to probably an hour.

At this point the needle on my thermometer, which goes up to 600, is usually buried. I'd guess it's easily 700. I've actually had to leave the door cracked if my breads are ready and it's too hot. If you are baking pizza and opening the door a lot, it would probably drop a little faster. Here are some temps times noted from a previous baking:

10:15 am: started fire

4:00 pm removed coals (This is a little long, probably 4-5 hours is plenty, but it was cold out so I was worried it would effect the temps...)

4:15 thermometer off end

5:00: ciabattas done in 10 minutes

5:05: Still just under 500 degrees (left door cracked 20-30 minutes)

6:30 : 425-450 degrees (for columbia sourdough--baked in 25 minutes)

6:40: Roasted a chicken (still over 400 degrees)

8:00: ate chicken :)

9:00: 350 degrees and holding.

 

As you can see, it really holds on to the heat for a while, I have no trouble making pizzas and then several batches of bread--you just order them in terms of baking temps (lean doughs first, finish up with enriched type doughs, etc). I've heard you can keep a small fire going in there for pizza to keep it really hot--I could only imagine needing that if you were cooking for a large group.

 

ron45's picture
Submitted by ron45 on

Thank you Breadnerd that's really helpful stuff, especially the time/temp table. I appreciate your taking the time to help. I figured I was worrying too much about the scuffle. It's good to talk to someone who's comfortable with the process. I've only fired mine to about 600 a few times after some smaller break in fires so far but that was without a firing door. I think I'll get one cast this week. I'll probably cast a baking door as well to replace the cob baking door. They'll be a mix of plaster of paris and a little concrete over some sort of mesh reinforcment. This might be a good time to ask if there is any reason you know of not to use p of p in the doors. I have no Idea what it is made of. The cob baking door weighs a ton and I like the idea of sealing around it with a wet towel. The cob would not like the wet towel much. But It may supply plenty of moisture to bake my two loaves of desem bread and a pizza or two.

Ron

Ron Berg's picture
Submitted by Ron Berg on

Re: your peel question - peels are untreated wood. i.e. you don't have to treat them in any way to use them.  They will eventually (over a long perriod of time depending on how often you bake) get beat up enough to want to replace.  For that reason, some baker's peels have a removable handle, so only the flat peel needs to be replaced.

I am impressed with your earthen oven (and your homemade peel). The oven looks like a work of art.  I also have a wood fired oven (Mugnaini) which was just installed (oven opening in the house) this last fall.  I am having a ball doing all manner of cooking in it this winter. 

The broom which I have for my oven has brass bristles.  Fornobravo.com sells all manner of accessories for wood fired ovens, including such brooms. 

For mopping out the oven before baking, I have a cotton terrycloth towel tacked to the end of a stick.  I get it wet then wring it out so it is only damp and swish it over the oven floor to remove the ash.

In your earthen oven is there any kind of insulation under the floor to help the floor retain heat for baking? 

 

ron45's picture
Submitted by ron45 on

Hello Ron, thanks for your kind words on the oven and peel. Before we moved to New Mexico and started building our adobe I always did some sort of crafts with my hands. In addition, being in the middle of nowhere is a good catalyst for doing things yourself....that and being reluctant to spend money for something I think I could make... Like our house. I should add that my wife was right there with me when she wasn't off helping ladies have there babies. She's a nurse. And a good adobe mason!

The hearth [fire brick] has about 4" of vermiculite over a bed of tamped earth on a loose rubble fill of adobe block chunks and pieces. Over the vermiculite is another layer of 4" of tamped, damp earth. I did this to have some thermal storage under the 4" sand which is the next layer just under the fire brick. The top foot or so of the oven base is plastered on the inside with a mix of vermiculite and lime plaster [lime sand and cob mix] with as much vermiculite as I could stir in with a half inch drill and paint paddle. It was quite stiff. This went on about 3 inches thick in two layers. The oven core is covered with a similar mix vermiculite and cob mix but about 5 or 6 inches thick then a layer or two of just cob [ mud, lots of sand and lots of straw] and it will get a lime plaster skin over that. It sits next to the back door and is under a small roof. So I have no idea when I'll get to plastering it. I have a cob, passive solar chicken coop to build and this whole house to plaster with lime.

Ron

beanfromex's picture
Submitted by beanfromex on

Interesting oven and peel!!

I wish...

 

regards from southern mexico 

ron45's picture
Submitted by ron45 on

Thank you Beanfromex and regards back from central New Mexico. I made the business end of the peel farily thin. I hope it won't warp from the heat. Do you use a cob or adobe oven for baking?

Ron

beanfromex's picture
Submitted by beanfromex on

HI Ron,

 

I actually use a gas oven.

Here in tobasco it is 95% water. We have some great black clay.

I have never seen one of those types of ovens here.  

Since reading the thread about adobe and cob ovens, I did a search and have seen some wonderful ovens, which if I lived somewhere else, nightbe a possibility. Here it is not.

Interesting thread. thank you.